Rangers Spartak Moscow Europa League Tactical Analysis

Rangers drew 1-1 with Aberdeen last night in a match where both sides will feel they could have taken all 3 points. A controversial penalty put Aberdeen in the lead, and some determined play saw Rangers equalise, but neither side was at their best. The match was played at a high pace with more fouls than moments of quality.

Rangers started with Ross McCrorie replacing Jason Cummings from the line-up at the weekend. Aberdeen put Christie back into the side, and McLean was available after suspension. Cosgrove kept his place up front as they looked to be a little more solid in midfield.

FIRST HALF

Rangers started the match very well, controlling possession and playing in the Aberdeen half. The first real chance fell to Morelos on the 5th minute. Excellent play between Dorrans and Candeias released the midfielder on the edge of the box. He shaped to shoot, but played in Morelos, who saw his shot on the turn saved by Lewis.

Rangers were winning corners and causing Aberdeen some issues, but after 13 minutes the game changed. McCrorie was unable to control a ball and it went out for a corner. The first one was cleared, but the next one saw Christie play a low ball towards McLean. Morelos looked to get to the ball first, but the referee awarded a penalty as Kenny McLean went down and called for a foul. The decision looked questionable in real time, and replays showed it was a poor one. McLean stepped up to take the penalty, and Alnwick guessed the wrong way as Aberdeen took an undeserved lead.

Rangers let the decision and concession of a goal drag their performance down. The game became physical, which suited Aberdeen far more. The referee was inconsistent, and bookings were starting to flow. Bates was booked for an accidental clash, yet somehow McLean avoided one for slamming Morelos to the ground. For every decision, Shinnie was in the face of the referee, yet Dorrans was the one booked for dissent. Cosgrove got a yellow card for a high arm in the face of Bates, which only fuelled the fire in the game.

Around the 31st minute, McLean hit a shot from distance which came back off the bar. This also signalled the end of the match for Dorrans, who had picked up an injury in an earlier challenge. Goss was sent on to replace him and try to add some composure back to the team.

The match was defined by poor challenges, and Rangers picked up another couple of bookings before half time. Goss was lucky not to be booked with what looked like the worst challenge of the match as well. Had the referee gave the earlier foul on Candeias, though, that situation would have been avoided.

SECOND HALF

Rangers were sent back out earlier than the home side, no doubt having been told to regain their discipline and composure. Aberdeen started the second half a little brighter, but Rangers did create chances. Morelos was giving the Aberdeen defence problems, and was seeing shots blocked. He missed a great chance on 57 minutes as the ball was crossed by Tavernier, and his diving header was straight at Lewis.

Jason Cummings replaced Holt on 61 minutes, and 2 minutes later Rangers were level. Some great play from Morelos saw him beat two defenders with a turn from a throw in. His shot looked on target, but was blocked and sent high into the air. With Murphy, McKenna and McCrorie underneath it, the ball was won by the young Rangers midfielder. His header went in at the far post, and Rangers got themselves level.

Cummings was playing wide left to allow Murphy to move central. This clearly improved the overall performance of Rangers, and Murphy in particular. On the 70th minute, a great run by Murphy saw him play a through ball to Morelos. From an angle he’s scored a few goals this season, Morelos got a shot away, but it was blocked by McKenna.

Rangers were pushing for the win, and Aberdeen looking to hit them on the break. Mackay-Steven got free on the left, but hit a shot when a cross looked the better option. Alnwick was able to make a comfortable save. At the other end, Candeias played a good through ball for Cummings, but he tried to let it run across him, and was crowded out. Resulting efforts from the edge of the box were blocked.

In the last 10 minutes, both sides created chances, but just lacked a quality final ball. There was still time for another 4 yellow cards, taking the total up to 10. In many respects, that was the story of the match.

ANALYSIS

Rangers let some poor refereeing affect their performance in the first half. Before the Aberdeen goal, there had been good play and a lot of confidence. In the second half, they were the dominant team. Most would have expected this squad to struggle to turn the game around. They showed some resilience and fight in this match, which has been lacking all too often. There is no doubt the referee was poor, to the point of favouring the home team. It’s a frustration, but one that the team had to manage better than they did.

The half hour spell in the first half was enough to make a draw a fair result. Rangers can rightly be disappointed by their performance overall, though. With McCrorie and Morelos suspended for the final match against Hibernian, the team will need to be better without two key players to finish the season on any sort of positive note.

RANGERS:

Alnwick; Tavernier, Martin, Bates, Halliday; McCrorie, Holt (Cummings, 60); Candeias, Dorrans (Goss, 33), Murphy; Morelos.

SUBS: Kelly, Hodson, Rossiter, Alves, Docherty.

ABERDEEN:

Lewis, Logan, Ball (Stewart, 72), O’Connor, Considine, Shinnie, McLean, Christie, McKenna, Mackay-Steven (Rooney 90), Cosgrove (May, 79).

SUBS: Woodman, Arnason, Reynolds, Wright.